A Catholic Monthly Magazine

60th Anniversary – Oppressed Multitudes

On the Occasion of his 60th Anniversary of his Ordination to Priesthood - 2 July 1951

The Holy Father, having thanked the cardinals for their gift, made some remarks. “This is a moment of gratitude for the Lord’s guidance; for everything He has given me and forgiven me over these years”, he said. “Yet it is also a moment to remember. In 1951 the world was completely different: there was no television, there was no internet, there were no computers, there were no mobile phones. The world from which we come truly seems prehistoric. Above all, our cities were in ruins, the economy destroyed, there was great material and spiritual poverty. Yet there was also a great energy and a will to rebuild this country and to renew ... the community on the foundation of our faith”.

“Then came Vatican Council II where all the hopes we had seemed to come true. This was followed by the cultural revolution of 1968, difficult years during which the ship of the Lord appeared to be taking on water, almost about to sink. Nonetheless the Lord, Who seemed then to be sleeping, was present and He led us forward. Those were the unforgettable years in which I worked alongside Blessed Pope John Paul II. Finally, came the unexpected day of 19 April 2005 when the Lord called me to a new task and, only by virtue of His strength, abandoning myself to Him, was I able at that moment to say ‘yes’.

“Over these sixty years nearly everything has changed; but the Lord’s faithfulness has remained”, the Holy Father added in conclusion. “He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. This is our certainty, which shows us the way to the future. The time to remember, the time of gratitude, is also the time of hope”.

Christ’s Gaze Rests on the Oppressed Multitudes of Today

“In today’s Gospel the Lord Jesus repeats these words, which we know so well but which never fail to move us: ‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest’. ... When Jesus travelled the roads of Galilee announcing the Kingdom of God and healing many sick people, He felt compassion for the crowds because they were tired and exhausted, like sheep without a shepherd”, the Pope said.

“Jesus’ gaze seems to rest upon us today, upon our world”, he explained. “Today too it rests upon so many people who are oppressed by difficult living conditions, people without valid signposts to help them find a meaning and a goal in life. Exhausted multitudes in the poorest countries are tried by want; and even in richer nations there are many men and women who are dissatisfied, even sick with depression. We think of the many displaced people and refugees, of those who migrate at risk of their lives. Christ’s gaze rests upon all these people; or rather it rests on each single child of the Father Who is in heaven, and says: ‘Come to me, all of you’.

“Jesus promises that He will give ‘rest’ to everyone”, the Pope added, “but He imposes a condition: ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart’. What is this ‘yoke’, which is light rather than burdensome, which lifts up rather than weighing down? The ‘yoke’ of Christ is the law of love, it is His commandment which He left to His disciples”.

The Holy Father continued: “The true remedy for humanity’s wounds - both material wounds such as hunger and injustice, and mental and moral wounds caused by a false wellbeing - is a life rule based on brotherly love, which has its source in the love of God. For this reason we must abandon the paths of arrogance, of violence used to attain positions of ever greater power, to ensure success at all costs.

“We must also abandon that aggressive approach towards the environment which dominated past centuries, and adopt a reasonable ‘mildness’. Above all, in human, interpersonal and social relationships, what can ensure a future worthy of man is the rule of respect and non-violence; that is, the power of truth against all abuse”.  VIS  704

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